Two states down, 48 to go!
I am starting to work toward getting in on this!
In June, I posted about Jamie Shupe, the first person in the US to successfully petition for the gender status of “non-binary.” Now as of September 26th, Sara Kelley Keenan is also legally non-binary. Here is a full article about it: Californian Becomes Second US Citizen Granted ‘Non-Binary’ Gender Status.
I want to be the third! (Or the fourth, or the fifth, or the sixth, etc. The number doesn’t matter to me at all; just that I get to do it, eventually.)
I’ve been stalling about changing my name legally, for a long time now. It’s been a year and a half since I socially changed it, everywhere except for work. Part of the reason for waiting is because I don’t know what I’m doing with my last name. And if there’s a chance I’m going to change it, I don’t want to go through this process twice!
And yeah, work is the other reason. I mean, I can legally change my name without coming out at work, but it would be great if the two goals aligned.
And now I’m wondering if I can change my name and also request the status of “non-binary” all at once. I’m in the process of finding this out. There is a social justice group called Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) that partners with lawyers and law firms for pro bono work on issues including the Name Change Project. Luckily, I fall within their geographical range, so I filled out their form, and should hear back within two weeks!
I also am fairly close to feeling good about moving forward with a new last name. I had one idea a long time ago but was unsure. Over time, I stopped thinking about it entirely, until just last week. I went to a therapy appointment for the first time in a few months, and that jump-started some thought processes that had been calcifying in the corners of my brain. Things got shaken up, and I’ve been feeling consistently euphoric ever since.
A little more about Sara Kelley Keenan: She is a 55 year-old retired paralegal who was born intersex. According to the article,
Her court petition was a quiet, unannounced test case for a group of California people who also seek to change their legal genders to non-binary rather than female or male. About five people—all working with the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project—plan to petition courts in the counties of San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara and Sacramento over the next few weeks.
How awesome is that?! I’m picturing a floodgate opening and people just pouring through. First five more people. Next fifty!
… “I’m 55 years old, this doesn’t really change my life very much. But I want to leave the world a better place for younger intersex people. This represents a huge opportunity for acceptance and awareness for young non-binary and intersex and trans people—and for their parents.”
There are still more barriers, though, of course. The DMV. Getting a passport. Other documents. Things are changing though, slowly but surely. Just last week, Shupe’s attorney got an email from the Oregon DMV, stating,
“[the Oregon] DMV received the okay to move forth with forming an advisory committee and drafting administrative rules regarding the capturing of sex on the driver license. The rules will allow DMV to capture and print an identifier for sex other than M for male and F for female on the driver license, permit, and ID card.”
Hassles! But, things are moving…
On June 10th, there was one small victory for the LGBTQ+ community and allies: A trans-person named Jamie Shupe filed a petition for a gender change in April, in Portland, Oregon, and they were finally in court in front of a judge on Friday. Their attorney, Lake J. Perriguey, has stated, “Oregon law has allowed for people to petition a court for a gender change for years, but the law doesn’t specify that it has to be either male or female. The law just says, ‘change.’ Historically, people have asked for a gender change from male to female and the other way around, but Jamie is the first to ask for the gender of ‘non-binary.'”
This is the first time this has had a successful outcome in the United States. I’d be curious to know whether others have tried before, in other states?
According to the New York Times, the judge, Amy Holmes Hehn, told Mr. Perriguey that he was “pushing the envelope.” And the attorney’s response was, “We’re not, really. The envelope just needs to get bigger.” I love that! The full article can be found here: Oregon Court Allows a Person to Choose Neither Sex. I am psyched. I feel that, within my lifetime, I will be able to do this too.
Another cool thing: A few months ago, The New York Times started an ongoing project where trans-people could share their own stories, in their own words. (I participated in this too. Here’s what I wrote: Kameron.) You can still share your story too: Share Your Story.
Jamie wrote, among other things, about their experiences in the military, all the discrimination they faced, and that although they legally changed their gender and name, the military would not change their ID card. “After a bad experience in the ER of having a female patient bracelet cut off and replaced with a male bracelet that had my old name in front of a room full of people, I asked the Army for a new ID card, and for my gender to be changed in their DEERS computer system. The Army responded with demands that I have unwanted SRS surgery, and that my spouse of 27 years relinquish her military benefits.”
Read the rest of their story here: Jamie Shupe. (At the time of the story, they identified as female.)